A new brigade of 10,000 cyber inspectors will be set up in 2018 to fight online dissents in Vietnam, the Vietnamese government annonced recently. This new brigade, called ‘Force 47’ will be responsible for tracking ‘dissenting opinions.’ In Vietnam internet and social networks are not prohibited, but are still very much controlled. Today 93 million people in Vietnam have access to the Internet, and the country ranks among the top 10 in the world as a percentage of Facebook users.
Last August, the president of Vietnam had already called for tighter controls saying some groups were using the web to launch campaigns threatening the ‘prestige of the party and state leaders.’ The government also asked Facebook and YouTube to remove some content qualified as ‘toxic’. According to Amnesty International, at least 15 dissidents were arrested in 2017 in Vietnam. Others received prison sentences, joining many activists already behind bars.